• Volunteer

Volunteer in Mexico: Conservation, Wildlife, Childcare, and Medicine

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By Jordyn Hotchkiss
Guest Writer
VolunteerForever

Looking for an adventurous and affordable getaway? Consider visiting and volunteering in Mexico for a vibrantly fun trip where you not only can explore and immerse yourself in colorful culture, but you also can make a positive impact wherever you go. From beaches to the wilds to bustling cities, there’s so much to see and do in Mexico. Let’s take a look at some of the great reasons to visit (and volunteer) in this beautiful country!

Combine Volunteering with Travel

Mexico is very commonly known for its unique and delicious food, and if you travel here as a volunteer, you will have the opportunity to try so many different flavors while also helping people, animals, and the environment!

There is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities available through many different organizations that strive to make their communities and ecosystems a better place for the long term. Regardless of whether you want to go away for just a week or even volunteer in Mexico for months at a time, there is no shortage of impactful organizations looking for your help.

Many parts of Mexico are suffering from poverty, leaving animals and children to fend for themselves on the streets. Tourists do not always understand the fragility of nature, and leave debris on the beaches and in the oceans. All of these are problems that are encountered in Mexico every day, and you can be there to help. While there is no overnight fix or band-aid for these issues, you can be part of the change led by dedicated teams and enabled by volunteers like yourself.

You may be able to live right on the beach as you work with endangered sea turtles, or stay closer to the wild where you can learn about falcons and how to rehabilitate after injuries and release them. Whether you’re interested in marine and wildlife conservation, or even helping empower women and children in poverty and ensuring that they know their rights, there is something meaningful for everyone who wants to volunteer in Mexico. You can be there to make a difference in the lives of so many, and continue changing and making the world a better place.

And during your stay, you’ll learn so much about Mexican culture and have the chance to meet tons of like-minded people. You can learn how to make a proper Mexican dish from your host family, or hang out with your fellow volunteers in a shared house as you teach yourselves to cook with local ingredients provided for you. Each day will bring something new as you explore the sites and fully immerse yourself into the culture and practice your Spanish skills. (Note: Spanish fluency is not required for most projects on this list, but a basic knowledge is always helpful – and some organizations even offer Spanish classes to help you make the most of your experience).

As a volunteer in Mexico, you will have excellent support from any organization you work with on the list below, and you’ll work alongside local teams and professionals at each project plus your fellow volunteers. You will push yourself to your limits and do more than you could have ever imagined. You will make lifelong friends, lasting memories, and change the lives of those around you.

So, are you ready to travel? Are you ready to make a difference in the world? If the answer is yes, then please continue reading on to learn about the many Mexico volunteer programs and the wonderful experiences that are waiting for you!

Global Vision International (GVI)

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Founded 20 years ago, GVI works all over the world with meaningful volunteer programs, internships, and teaching placements for travelers who want to make a difference and embark on adventure. To date, more than 20,000 volunteers have signed up with GVI to help with construction, conservation, education, and so much more. Right now, GVI has 17 different trips to Mexico.

Marine Conservation Expedition in Mexico

One of GVI’s many different volunteer trips to Mexico includes their Marine Conservation Expedition, where you can earn your PADI diving certificate and explore the beautiful coral reef. You will work with the local team on monitoring the health of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef for four to 12 weeks. As a member of this project you will be able to:

  1. Provide data of the overall health of the reef
  2. Raise environmental awareness
  3. Minimize the environmental impact that visitors have on the reserve
  4. Increase in-country capacity within the partners and community members of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

The amount of snorkeling and diving expeditions you have will be dependent upon the weather, but GVI aims for each team member to have one or two a day, five days a week, after completing training. The training process will have you learning to dive safely in open water and leave you PADI certified to enjoy your time exploring and monitoring the reef. In order to get the necessary training, you must commit to the project for a minimum of eight weeks. If you are already a certified PADI Open Water (or equivalent) diver, then you are welcome to only sign up for the four-week program if you choose. GVI can recommend places to become certified prior to your trip if you wish to only go to Mexico for the four-week program.

Once you are a certified diver, you will jump into the water and explore the beauties of the second-largest reef in the world. While there, you will learn how to identify the local wildlife as well as monitor the health of the reef and the fish. When you are not in the water, you will help with training sessions, marine debris surveys and removal, environmental education sessions, and base duties. Through all of this volunteer work, you will be taking part in a project that has a worldwide impact as the data is shared with the United Nations as part of their Sustainable Development Goals.

The base that you will be staying in has very basic living conditions, but is located on a white sand beach in the reserve where you can continue your research or relax with the other volunteers. In your free time, GVI offers optional side trips such as snorkeling with turtles in Akumal bay, dive Cozumel, visit Isla Holbox, and so much more.

With only four start dates left in 2017, you should get a jump on going this year, or check out one of the dates available in 2018 and 2019. This program cost $3,590 for the four-week program and increases depending on length of stay and any additional training and excursions you want enjoy. For more information, click here.

Childcare Volunteering in Mexico

If you want to work with children on your volunteer trip abroad, then GVI also has a program in Mexico for you: as a volunteer on their childcare project, you will work at a local children’s center helping to create a safe environment for children to learn and play. You will also help to empower these children and ensure that they know their rights. As a member of this project, you will be contributing to long-term goals such as:

  1. Improving the quality of education
  2. Raising awareness on animal welfare
  3. Increasing in-country capacity by providing training
  4. Minimize environmental impact and raise awareness on environmental issues
  5. Increase the quality of resources

While the major focus of the project is helping to care for the children, each of the above goals are interconnected as you educate locals on creating a better atmosphere and life for their families.

According to estimates from Save the Children, 95% of children in Cancun suffer from some type of aggression, either physical or verbal; 70% of children in Quintana Roo suffer from abandonment; 43% of those between 6 and 17 know a gang member; and 25% of children have seen drugs or know another child that sells them. These are statistics that you can help change by being a part of a project that gives children a safe place to have fun and make good friends. You will help to teach the children how to keep safe by informing them of different forms of violence and help them to realize that they have rights.

During your weekdays, you will work at the local center, with lots of time on the weekends to relax or explore the surrounding areas. Your accommodation will be shared with the other volunteers in an house or apartment, or you can upgrade to private housing if you choose.

This two-week-minimum program offers many dates still available in 2017 with more available in 2018 and 2019 and prices beginning at $1,990 for the first two weeks. Learn more and sign up here!

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)

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Founded 10 years ago, International Volunteer HQ is an excellent volunteer organization to check out if you want to volunteer in Mexico – or anywhere else in the world. With over 77,000 volunteers placed on 150+ meaningful programs in more than 35 destinations worldwide, IVHQ has an incredible reach and impact. IVHQ’s volunteer abroad programs start from just $180 for one week in-country, and include a registration fee, airport pickup, orientation, supervision, accommodation and meals, 24/7 in-country support, and administrative costs. Right now, IVHQ is offering five different volunteer programs in Mexico.

Animal Care Volunteering in Mexico

One of the several different projects in Mexico that IVHQ is offering right now invites you to support an animal care and animal rights program. Unfortunately, Mexico has a large problem with domesticated dogs and cats being abandoned on the streets, and although the issue has improved over the years, your help is still very much needed.

The program you will help with is based in the city of Merida, where there are not enough resources currently to care for all of these abandoned animals, leading to many being euthanized. However, there are several non-profit organizations that have taken on the problem and are caring for and finding homes for these animals. As a volunteer you will help with basic tasks such as bathing, brushing, training, walking, playing, cleaning cages, and preparing the animals for adoption.

Along with basic care, you will also help with fundraising initiatives as well as educating the local citizens on this issue and the importance of caring for these animals. You may also be taking part in free or low-cost clinics that offer mass spaying and neutering services for street animals throughout the year to curb population growth. Most of IVHQ’s Mexico volunteer programs range from one to 12 weeks with program fees starting from $270. Learn more and sign up here!

Maya Agriculture Volunteering in Mexico

Another option to volunteer in Mexico through IVHQ is their Maya Agriculture Project, where you will have the wonderful opportunity to work on sustainable farming and reforestation in Mayan communities. This is a new project that IVHQ is still continuing to develop, but if you are looking to get down in the dirt and help the environment, then this project is for you. The activities you will be helping with may include:

  1. Maintaining native plant gardens
  2. Sowing seeds
  3. Producing compost
  4. Harvesting and processing produce
  5. Building irrigation systems
  6. Labelling native plants and trees
  7. Cleaning and monitoring wildlife around reservoirs and lakes
  8. Plastering rudimentary buildings
  9. Excavating cave systems
  10. Digging and replanting indigenous plants

Through these activities, you will help to make a difference and rebuild a more sustainable community. While the exact details of the work you’ll take on will depend on project needs at the time, you will receive onsite training and education to make the best of your experience and have a successful trip.

The Maya Agriculture Project takes place in a very remote location, where you will have the most basic of accommodations including sleeping in hammocks, using composting toilets, and taking bucket showers. Due to training needs, you will also need to participate for a minimum of two weeks and apply a one-time $65 fee. This program starts from $420 for your first two weeks, and as with the animal care program, you’re invited to stay longer.

For all volunteer projects with IVHQ, you will be given an orientation at the beginning of your trip to go over everything that will be expected of you during your stay. You should expect to work during the weekdays and have weekends free to travel and immerse yourself in the surrounding culture, or to just relax and enjoy your stay. You will be provided with breakfast and dinner, but should plan on about $5 to $10 a day for lunches as well as another $5 a day for bottled water.

For more information about the different volunteer opportunities in Mexico offered by IVHQ, click here.

Love Volunteers

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Founded in 2009, Love Volunteers offers affordable volunteer and intern abroad placements in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, with more than 120 programs to choose from. As one of the world’s fastest-growing volunteer groups, Love Volunteers has placed more than 4,000 volunteers overseas just in the past year. Both of Love Volunteers’ trips to Mexico start from $229 for one week.

Childcare and Development Volunteering in Mexico

As a member of Love Volunteers’ childcare and development project, you will help to provide children in Oaxaca with the education that they need and deserve. Many impoverished children in the area do not get a proper education, so you and the other volunteers are there to give them the best education you can along with basic resources and support such as nutritious meals, medical care, and extracurricular activities. With your help, Love Volunteers hopes to end the poverty cycle in the Oaxaca region and allow its citizens to lead more enriched lives. Your duties as a volunteer will include:

  1. Working with children in art classes, the computer lab, and other projects
  2. Working on research, proposals, and fundraising projects
  3. Networking with local residents and project staff
  4. Helping out with jobs in the library and kitchen

All of these combined will help to make a better life for the children of Oaxaca and prepare them for a happier and healthier future that they can share with their families.

For the duration of your stay, you will be living with a local host family who will provide breakfast during the workweek, but you will be responsible for your own lunch and dinner as well as all meals on weekends. Most programs last one week to three months with program fees starting from $229, plus a $299 registration fee for new members (or $149 for alumni).

This particular project in Mexico is available year-round with start dates every Sunday, but space is limited so be sure to plan your trip as early as possible. For more information and to sign up, click here.

Medical Internship in Mexico

The other option to volunteer in Mexico with Love Volunteers is their medical internship, where medical students, nurses, paramedics, and qualified medical practitioners can enhance their skills and help the citizens of Oaxaca. Healthcare is often prohibitively expensive for many people in this area, so as an intern you will be volunteering at local hospitals and clinics to provide free healthcare, both publicly and privately. Your role in this project is to:

  1. Medically assist the most disadvantaged and culturally diverse people of Mexico
  2. Network with local residents and project staff
  3. Supply medical services to people in Oaxaca and the surrounding areas
  4. Assist with medical procedures as well as consultations, depending on your skill level

As a medical intern, you will have the opportunity to help hundreds of people who cannot afford the medical care that they deserve through this amazing program, all while enhancing your skills and exploring a culture different from your own.

Throughout your stay, you will be living with a local host family, who will provide breakfast during the workweek. Outside of your internship hours, you will have plenty of time to explore the surrounding areas and learn all about what Mexico has to offer. This program lasts one week to three months, starting from only $229 plus a $299 registration fee for new members, or $149 for alumni. It is also offered year-round with start dates every Sunday.

For more information on the Medical Internship and everything else that Love Volunteers has to offer, please click here.

Projects Abroad

Volunteer in Mexico with Projects Abroad

With more than 10,000 volunteers placed on high-quality, meaningful programs each year, Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer travel organizations in the world. Volunteer in Mexico with Projects Abroad and take part in work that serves the needs of the local community. You can join a team that supports communities and the environment, while experiencing Mexico’s rich culture and beautiful landscapes. You can also do an internship to gain valuable international experience in your field of study or future career.

Medical Internships in Mexico

Gain valuable international medical experience on an internship in Mexico and boost your resume for college and work applications. You’ll work alongside professional doctors and nurses in a local hospital on this great opportunity to learn about healthcare in a developing country. Projects Abroad also offers internships in DentistryNursing, and Physiotherapy.

Protect Endangered Sea Turtles

There’s nothing quite like seeing new life flourish in its natural habitat. You can join Projects Abroad volunteering in Mexico and make your dream of releasing baby sea turtles come true! Releasing hatchlings is only one part of sea turtle conservation. Here are various types of activities you can get involved in:

  1. Search for and move turtle nests to a protected area
  2. Clean and maintain turtle tanks and care for sea turtles
  3. Study biodiversity as part of important ongoing research initiatives
  4. Do environmental and educational outreach within the local community
  5. Participate in beach clean-ups

Volunteer with Children in Mexico

You can support and care to disadvantaged children at daycare centers and kindergartens in Mexico. You’ll provide much-needed assistance to teachers who have limited capacity and resources. At your placement, you’ll help facilitate educational games and classroom activities to give the children the educational development they need.

Discover all the Projects Abroad volunteer opportunities in Mexico.

Frontier

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For over 25 years, Frontier has combined community development, capacity building, ecosystem protection, economic growth, and the development of civil society through collaboration between communities, researchers, and volunteers. This nonprofit scientific research organization offers more than 400 different volunteer projects in over 70 countries worldwide, and whether you’d like to embark on a volunteer trip, internship overseas, gap year, or beyond, Frontier is a fantastic way to do it. Right now, Frontier is offering nine different volunteer programs in Mexico.

Sea Turtle Conservation in Mexico

Frontier offers many volunteer programs in the beautiful country of Mexico, including a sea turtle conservation project in Veracruz. Due to Mexico’s heightened tourist traffic, the coastline is greatly disturbed and natural habitats are suffering. Sea turtles do not adapt to the tourist traffic and continue to lay their eggs on local beaches as they naturally should, but once the hatchlings are born they face greater dangers of pollution and fishing nets on their way to the ocean.

As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to help these creatures. You will take part in either day or night patrols to ensure the nests are safe, and if they are not, then you will help to move them into a “safe zone” where hatchlings can be born and given aid in their release into the ocean. Your specific duties will be dependent upon the season and current focuses of the program but they could include:

  1. Nest management
  2. Nest transplants
  3. Hatchling release
  4. Attending visiting groups
  5. Attending to sick or injured sea turtles
  6. Learning about marine education, research, and restoration programs

All of these tasks will help to create a safer environment for sea turtles and ensure they can live without risk of endangerment.

Throughout your stay, you will live in a shared room with other volunteers, or you will be camping right by the beach. Either way, you will have access to western facilities, but still very basic living. You will have one day per week off from the project where you can go into town and explore the local areas. Three meals a day will be provided to you in traditional Mexican style.

This program starts from two weeks at $1,345, though you can stay up to five weeks. The project starts on the first and third Monday of each month and although turtle season is June through mid-November, you are welcome to join at any time of the year. Learn more and sign up here!

Volunteer with Children in Mexico

Frontier is also offering a trip to Mexico where you can spend your time volunteering with children in Playa Del Carmen. Through this experience, you will be volunteering with children whose parents work long hours, often leaving them to fend for themselves when it comes to basic care, education, and fun and games. You have the opportunity to be a positive role model for these children and empower them to do great things.

At the center you’ll volunteer in, you will help to provide the children a safe and fun environment where they can learn and play and not worry about the hardships that come from being on their own – whether it’s missing out on important development milestones, life skills, or even being safe from acts of aggression. You can be there to give them the attention they want and deserve. You can help with reading and writing in English and any other tasks their teachers have prepared, while watching the children become more eager to learn and make new friends.

You should expect to work at the center Monday through Friday, which will give you ample time on the weekends to explore or just hang out and relax. Generally you will be working in the mornings, so your afternoons will be spent helping plan lessons for the next day, or practicing your Spanish skills through language lessons. As with the sea turtle conservation program, you’ll have basic but comfortable accommodations.

This project has several start dates still available in 2017 and you can choose to stay from two weeks to six months. Prices begin at $1,895 for two weeks. If you are not already fluent in Spanish, you will be required to take 20 hours of lessons for an additional $445. Click here to learn more and to sign up!

Are You Ready to Travel?

Like many of the countries that you can visit and volunteer worldwide, Mexico is a wonderful place to travel, meet amazing people, and make a difference. If any of the above projects sound like something you might be interested in, what are you waiting for? All of these programs are waiting for willing participants such as yourself to apply and make the journey. You could be one of the volunteers Mexico needs. There is never a wrong time to explore the world and help those around you.

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